December 15, 2009

Schumer, Gillibrand, Bishop, Israel, King, Mccarthy, Meeks, Weiner Urge President Obama To Grant Federal Disaster Declaration For New York Beaches Devastated By Recent Storms

Nor’easter Caused Tens of Millions of Dollars Worth of Damage to Beaches in Nassau and Suffolk Counties and New York City - Massive Erosion Could Lead to Serious Breaches This Winter

Washington, DC ­- U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and Representatives Tim Bishop, Steve Israel, Peter King, Carolyn McCarthy, Greg Meeks, and Anthony Weiner called on President Obama to grant a federal disaster declaration as soon as possible for the Long Island and New York beaches ravaged by recent storms, making them eligible for federal disaster aid to pay for the significant repairs required. The initial damage estimates show that Long Island is well above the required minimum needed to be eligible for aid. Damage and erosion up and down the Long Island shore line have created a near crisis situation, with dunes so severely eroded they are at risk for breach this winter.

"Recent storms have stripped bare too many of Long Island's and Rockaway's beaches, leaving them vulnerable to dune breaches, flooding and damage to nearby homes and roads, when the next storm hits," Senator Schumer said. "That is why I am urging President Obama to immediately grant a federal disaster declaration for the New York beaches ravaged by the recent nor'easter.  I will continue to work with the delegation to ensure New Yorkers access deserved federal support to counter-act the massive beach erosion."

"It is critical that we open up additional funds for the replenishment of beaches on Long Island and in the Rockaways as quickly as possible," Senator Gillibrand said. "We cannot sit here and wait for a severe winter storm to devastate coastal communities throughout New York. Now that Governor Paterson has requested a federal disaster declaration, I will work with the entire delegation to ensure FEMA comes through on their part. Resident on Long Island and in the Rockaways should not be left shouldering all of the cost."

"I applaud the Governor for responding to my request for action concerning the urgent needs of the south shore of Long Island. I trust the Administration will take the appropriate actions to ensure our communities have adequate protection against future storms and that our maritime industries do not face further economic burden," said Congressman Bishop, who first petitioned Gov. Paterson last week to request a federal declaration. "In the coming weeks, I will be coordinating a meeting between Federal, State and local agencies to determine the most effective steps forward toward protecting the resources and assets of south shore communities."

"Long Island's beaches have taken a beating. We need a federal disaster declaration now to save and preserve one of New York's greatest treasures," said Congressman Israel.

"Our shoreline has become extremely vulnerable from the damage caused by recent storms, and that is why I am strongly urging FEMA to make Long Island eligible for emergency funds," said Congressman King.  "We must act quickly to restore our washed-out beaches, so that they may continue to serve as the first line of defense against storm damage and flooding."

"I thank Governor Patterson for requesting a federal disaster declaration for Long Island. I appreciate the lead taken by Senators Schumer and Gillibrand on this issue, and I will continue to work with the rest of the delegation to ensure that the federal government does its part in helping Long Islanders make necessary restorations.  If we do not respond now and fix the beach erosion, other winter storms will threaten not just our beaches but nearby homes and roads," Congresswoman McCarthy said.

"We must work together now to address the erosion crisis besieging New York's beaches and shores," stated Congressman Meeks. "I have personally witnessed the devastation of Rockaway's beaches and have real concerns as to how this will further affect our communities and our economy.  Last month's storm was an indication of what further damage we can expect this winter and we must ensure that we are prepared to replenish and protect our beaches with FEMA's help.  I support Governor Paterson's request for a federal disaster declaration and will continue to advocate for all the necessary resources."  

"We are now one windy day away from losing substantial parts of New York's coastline, and that is unacceptable," Congressman Weiner said. "New York City has nearly 600 miles of waterfront, and we need to be doing everything possible to ensure that New Yorkers' lives and property are protected from dangerous erosion, no matter the weather conditions. That is why we need Federal aid to help pay for repairs as soon as possible."

The Congressional Delegation's letter to President Obama is attached.

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